|CHINA-KIRIN (Jilin) 1884 (10th Year) 1/2 Tael Silver, variety with dragon's feet ending in curls (arabesques). Weight 18g, Kann 917, Lin 505, with 1987 ANACS Certificate of Authenticity, ex Scott Semans. Superb UNC
This early Kirin mint was located in the arsenal which was constructed in 1881 in Kirin City. Unlike the later Kirin dragon coins, the early coins of Kirin specify the Ch'ang P'ing Tael. Earlier in the dynasty, the Chinese fought a brief war with the Russians on the border of Manchuria. A shipyard was constructed on the river at the site which became Kirin City. At first, this place was known as "Shipyard (City)" (Ch'uan Ch'ang), and because of this, the Kirin tael was known as the Ch'ang P'ing tael. The Kirin silver coins of the 1880's were experimental and few were minted. According to a memorial from the Governor of Kirin, mentioned in Kann, the total mintage of the 1885 coins was only 5,000 taels-divided into denominations of 1, 3, 5, 7 Mace and 1 Tael. If equal numbers of each denomination were produced, the mintage of each piece would be only 1920 pieces. Kann notes that there are two varieties of the 5 Mace (or half tael) coin, one with the dragon's feet ending in claws, and one with the dragon's feet ending in curls (which Kann calls arabesques). A very interesting and rare coinage.